Mere Links 07.15.14
Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 10:32 AM

Church of England Says Yes to Women Bishops
Associated Press

The Church of England ended one of its longest and most divisive disputes Monday with an overwhelming vote in favor of allowing women to become bishops.

Supreme Court: Government Can’t Make People Into Religious Hypocrites
Travis Weber, The Federalist

The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision recognized that who people are can’t be separated into separate ‘work’ and ‘faith’ boxes.

Is Evangelical Morality Still Acceptable in America?
Alan Noble, The Atlantic

People who disagree with same-sex marriage and birth-control use have been met with accusations of bigotry. Are some Christians being unfairly shamed out of the public sphere?

Why the Culture Wars Are Nothing New
John Zmirak, Aleteia

Meet one medieval woman of faith who faced down church, state, and neighbor in defense of religious freedom.



Mere Links 07.14.14
Monday, July 14, 2014, 10:00 AM

China beachhead
June Cheng, WORLD

Pro-life efforts are growing in the nation with the most abortions. But saving lives in the womb is an enormous challenge—even within the church

We May Be Approaching Peak Porn
Brandon McGinley, The Federalist

Pornography is one vestige of sexual liberation that, despite wide use, people still aren’t willing to condone.

Romans 13 and the Immigration Crisis
Félix Cabrera, The Gospel Coalition

The principal New Testament text relating to government authorities is Romans 13. Does Romans 13 give unlimited power to the government to do what they want? History tells us that many notorious dictators and abusive governments have used Romans 13:1-5 out of context to abuse the power entrusted to them.

Senate Passes Special Envoy Bill to Prioritize State Department Engagement on Religious Liberty
Leanna Baumer, FRC Blog

The U.S. Senate took an encouraging step forward in the effort to force the State Department to prioritize the freedom of religion in diplomatic efforts globally. In a unanimous vote, the Senate cleared the Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act of 2014 (S. 653).



After Homosexual “Marriage”, Are Pedophilia and Incest Acceptance Next?
Monday, July 14, 2014, 9:33 AM

As a regular reader of Salvo magazine, I have seen the articles on efforts to “normalize” pedophilia.  But I have noticed that there have been some accelerating steps regarding the acceptance of pedophilia, and I wonder whether my readers have noticed.  First, there is the academic foundation for pedophilia acceptance.  Although efforts have been made to mainstream pedophilia since the early 1980s, last July, there was a conference on the subject held at the University of Cambridge in England.  Among the presentations at this conference were “Liberating The Paedophile: A Discursive Analysis,” and “Danger and Difference: The Stakes of Hebephilia.”  (I was unfamiliar with the term hebephilia, but it refers to the sexual preference for children in early puberty, typically 11 to 14-year-olds.)  Philip Tromovitch, a professor at Doshisha University in Japan, stated in his presentation about the “prevalence of pedophilia” and that the “majority of men are probably pedophiles and hebephiles” and that “paedophilic interest is normal and natural in human males.”  Among the conclusions of his presentation was the following:

Paedophilic interest is natural and normal for human males.  At least a sizeable minority of normal males would like to have sex with children … Normal males are aroused by children.

Who knew?  So now we have his statement as a central claim of an academic presentation.  One of the attendees at this conference was Tom O’Carroll, a multiple child sex offender, long-time campaigner for the legalization of sex with children, and the former head of the “Paedophile Information Exchange.”  On his blog after the conference, he wrote, “Wonderful!  It was a rare few days when I could feel relatively popular!”  Indeed I am sure that he did!

Then there are the “contributions” by the psychiatric profession.  The new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (“DSM-5”) was published by the American Psychiatric Association (“APA”), on May 18, 2013.  The DSM-5 offers a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders, and is widely used and relied upon by clinicians, researchers, psychiatric drug regulation agencies, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, the legal system, and policy makers.  After a fierce battle at the APA, a proposal to include hebephilia as a mental disorder in the DSM-5 edition was defeated.  The proposal arose because many have observed that puberty in children has started earlier in recent years and, it was argued, the current definition of pedophilia missed out too many young people.  Ray Blanchard, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, who led the APA’s working group on the subject, said that unless some other way was found of encompassing hebephilia in the DSM-5, that was “tantamount to stating that the APA’s official position is that the sexual preference for early pubertal children is normal.”  Thus, hebephilia is not deemed to be a mental disorder.

Finally, we also have the beginning of the judiciary contributing their two cents to this issue.  A district court judge in Sydney, Australia, has said that incest is on a par with homosexuality.  (Wouldn’t homosexuals consider that creepy?)  The Honorable District Court Judge Garry Neilson espoused his view during a trial involving the trial of a man accused of raping his sister.  Judge Neilson said that sexual contact between siblings or between adults and children should perhaps no longer be viewed as “unnatural” or “taboo”, according to reports in the Sydney Morning Herald.  He drew parallels with changing attitudes towards homosexuals, and said that in the same way as homosexual sex, “a jury might find nothing untoward in the advance of a brother towards his sister once she had sexually matured, had sexual relationships with other men, and was now ‘available’, not having [a] sexual partner.”  (Quoting Festus, we might say to this honorable judge that much learning has made thee mad!)  The honorable judge then added that incest is only criminalized in society because of the high chance that any resulting offspring will be born with serious birth defects, but added that fortunately in our modern world, “even that [risk] falls away to an extent [because] there is such ease of contraception and readily access to abortion.”  As a result of his comments, the Attorney General of New South Wales has referred the honorable judge to the Judicial Commission of New South Wales, and further requested that the judge be suspended from criminal trials until the probe is completed.  Don’t forget that it was just a few years ago in 2010 that the upper house of the Swiss parliament drafted a law decriminalizing incest.

So here we begin to see elements of more devolutionary societal change.  We may consider each of these views to be beyond reprehensible.  We are all also acutely aware of the dangers posed to victims of pedophilia by perpetrators, enablers, and supporters.  I found the honorable judge’s views on the use of abortion to be particularly despicable.  But we can begin to see more clearly what is coming.  I fear that once it begins, like homosexual “marriage,” it will move rather quickly.  Perhaps the next step might be a television comedy involving pedophiles or hebephiles?  Brothers and sisters in Christ, please watch your children and grandchildren carefully as the institutions of influence in our society will not protect them.



Mere Links 07.11.14
Friday, July 11, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Festival Where ‘Christianity’ Is Just Earth Worship
Alexander Griswold, The Federalist

Every year, Hot Springs, North Carolina hosts the Wild Goose Festival, a four-day musical and spiritual festival marketed towards Progressive Christians. This year, I made the trip to catalogue the more outrageous presentations, speeches, and goings-on.

When Christians killed & why Muslim violence continues
David Roach, Baptist Press

How the principle of religious liberty ended executions over doctrine.

How Evangelical Christians Do Money: On Tithing
Interview with Tara Leigh, The Billfold

I like nice things. I like new things. Tithing helps refocus me on things that matter, instead of those fleeting joys that will end up in a yard sale someday. In short, it demonstrates my faith while refocusing my desires around things that deepen my relationship with God.

Don’t Fall For These Six Myths About Monogamy
Amy Otto, The Federalist

Marriage and its necessary component, monogamy, are still the best game in town.



Coming Soon To A Bakery Near You
Thursday, July 10, 2014, 4:51 PM

The British media have reported that a Christian baker is facing legal action from a government agency for refusing to bake a cake carrying the picture of Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie and the slogan “support gay marriage.”  (By the way, can Muppets really be homosexual?  Or are the homosexualists saying that those who have loving, platonic relationships are secretly gay?)  The Ashers Baking Company of Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, cancelled an order for the special love cake because it went against the religious beliefs of its owners.  The special love cake was also to include the logo of QueerSpace, a homosexual group supported by the customer, printed into the icing of the love cake.  The Christian bakers consider that baking this cake would endorse homosexual “marriage” in Northern Ireland, and would violate their religious convictions.  Of course, the bakery could have been targeted for a form of “entrapment” by the homosexualists.  (Do you ever wonder why Moslem bakers are never targeted?)

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (the “Commission”) has now written Ashers Bakery claiming that it is breaking the law and ordered the bakery to “remedy your illegal discrimination” within seven days, or be taken to court.  The Commission is claiming that the baker, in refusing to bake this special love cake, has discriminated against the customer based upon his sexual orientation.  The baker is supported by the Christian Institute, a British evangelical advocacy group.  The Christian Institute has responded that it is not discriminatory for a business to endorse a political campaign.  Importantly, Northern Ireland is the only province of the United Kingdom where homosexual “marriage” is not legal, though strenuous efforts are being made to establish homosexual ‘marriage” in Northern Ireland.

Colin Hart, chief executive of the Christian Institute, recently stated:

This is a sign of things to come exactly as we predicted.  The Government repeatedly failed to listen to members of the public, lawyers, constitutional experts, even its own MPs, when they called for safeguards to protect those who back traditional marriage, especially those who work in the public sector.  Now this nonsense, more usually associated with the public sector, is being applied to the private sector.  This means millions of ordinary people who do not agree with gay marriage face intimidation and the real threat of legal action from the forces of political correctness if they, out of conscience, decline to provide goods or services to campaign groups they do not agree with or support.  It establishes a dangerous precedent about the power of the state over an individual or business to force them to go against their deeply held beliefs.

Of course, the baker could simply have pointed out that baking the love cake would violate the intellectual property rights of Jim Henson Productions, Inc.  In addition, importantly to us, but perhaps less so to homosexualalists, the baker could have said that it is deeply offensive to sexualize characters from a television program for young children.  (This might have worked in that there have been a spate of British celebrities accused and convicted of pedophilia in recent years.)  British Prime Minister and Conservative Empty Suit David Cameron was asked about the baker’s situation during the Prime Minister’s question time in Parliament.  You can see his non-responsive answer here.  Perhaps the next step is for an abortion mill in the United Kingdom to find a devout Roman Catholic baker and ask him to make “We Love Abortion” cakes to give away as post-abortion novelties.  I have a sense that the Equality Commission would be writing letters to those bakers as well.  Please remember to pray for the owners and staff of the Ashers Baking Company.



Mere Links 07.10.14
Thursday, July 10, 2014, 10:00 AM

A Sexual Revolution for Young Evangelicals? No.
Russell D. Moore & Andrew Walker, National Review

Defying the secular culture, churchgoing Christians are sticking to Biblical teaching.

Is there a Rational Legal Basis for Traditional Marriage?
Robert Kraynak, Crisis Magazine

The average person is naturally intimidated by the judges and feels pressured to agree. If only the public knew how these judicial decisions were made. The district-court rulings involve the “equal protection” and “due process” clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution as they are applied to state marriage laws.

Justice Sotomayor Misses the Mark: Religious Non-Profits Should Prevail
Vincent Phillip Muñoz, Public Discourse

The contradictory reasoning of Justice Sotomayor’s Wheaton dissent exposes a glaring weakness in the legal argument requiring religious non-profits to comply with HHS’s regulatory scheme.

A Bit Of Religion Can Be Bad For Marriage
Charles E. Stokes, Amber Lapp, and David Lapp, The Federalist

Attending church regularly during young adulthood appears to significantly decrease the risk of divorce, even for early marriages.



Mere Links 07.09.14
Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 12:01 AM

9 Things You Should Know About Islam
Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition

Throughout the world, Muslims are observing their annual observance of Ramadan. Christians need to become more aware of Ramadan as well as the other practices and tenets of this fast-growing global religion. As an aid in that effort, here are nine things you should know about Islam.

The Right to Be Wrong
Ryan T. Anderson, Public Discourse

The right to religious freedom is for everyone, not just those with the “right” beliefs.

Nonprofits’ contraceptive cases next for justices
Associated Press

How much distance from an immoral act is enough? That’s the difficult question behind the next legal dispute over religion, birth control and the health law that is likely to be resolved by the Supreme Court.

European Court Decides Church Autonomy Case
Mark Movsesian, First Things

Russian judge calls clerical celibacy a human rights violation.



Mere Links 07.08.14
Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 10:00 AM

Church, State, and Human Trafficking
John Goerke, Public Discourse

For the common good, we must remember the ways in which church and state can mutually benefit each other—and watch for the ways in which the state threatens that relationship.

The Hobby Lobby Case Is a Small Victory, But a Real One
Andrew Quinn, The Federalist

Some pessimists say the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling is not a significant victory. They’re too gloomy.

Praying with Incense and the Wrath of God
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

Having determined that repentant prayer alone turns away the divine wrath, we should also consider two ritual gestures in which such prayer may be expressed: the offering of incense and the devout raising of the hands. Since Holy Scripture regards both these elevations as symbols of the soul’s ascent to God. It is no wonder we sometime find them joined in a unified ritual.

Free Contraception v. the Constitution
Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary

The decision that granted Wheaton College the right to avoid even the appearance of complicity in the use of such drugs provoked a particularly angry response from the court’s three female members.



A Young Arab Pastor Leads the Way
Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 9:03 AM

The recent tragic events in Israel have led to new rounds of attacks and reprisals, with more than 230 missiles fired into southern Israel, leading to a forceful Israeli military response.  The current attacks started on June 12, 2014, with the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli Jewish teens, one of whom was an American citizen. In retaliation, an Arab Moslem teen, Mohammed Abu Khder, 16, from the town of Shofat in East Jerusalem was also kidnapped and murdered by being burned alive.  Israeli police have arrested six Jewish Israelis for the murder, and three of them have now admitted their involvement with the teen’s torture and murder. Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu telephoned Mohammed’s father to offer his condolences to the family. It is unlikely that the Palestinian police will act with such dispatch as did the Israeli police.

Steven Khoury A Young Arab Pastor Leads the WayMy dear and deeply respected friend Steven Khoury is pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church in Shofat.  Pastor Khoury is an Arab-Israeli Christian who also serves as Vice President of Holy Land Missions, which supports six churches throughout Israel.  Over the past decades. Pastor Khoury has witnessed members of his churches attacked and persecuted.  His own father was shot by Moslem militants, and his uncle was martyred for the sake of Jesus Christ. Several young girls from his church were also martyred for their Christian faith. What was their crime? The girls invited other children to attend the church’s Vacation Bible School. Pastor Khoury is a published author, and he writes frequently for Al-Quds, the largest Arabic newspaper in the Holy Land.

Pastor Khoury and his congregations have endured numerous threats and attacks, and on June 30, 2014, after eight years of active ministry and evangelistic outreach in the Shofat area, the church closed at that location. Within hours, with the kidnapping and murder of the Moslem teen, riots, shootings, street fires, and great anger erupted in the neighborhood of the church. A Moslem, obviously sensing something was now different in his neighborhood, came to one of the leaders of the now closed Baptist church, and said, “Did you see what happened when you left the neighborhood? You took your covering of blessings and grace from our neighborhood with you?” Christians realize that the cover of God’s blessings is brought to a neighborhood and nation through a praying fellowship of Christian believers.

During the coming days and weeks, Pastor Khoury and his congregants plan to meet with the families of both of the murdered Moslem and Jewish teens. Among the Jews and Palestinians in Israel, the depth of hatred and animosity runs deep. It is expected that retaliation and revenge can lead to another intifada in short order. Here you can a short video of Rev. Khoury visiting Shofat this past weekend, and speaking with a Moslem teen. You can hear that the young man has no forgiveness in his heart. It is quite jarring to hear the youth speak.

It is only the true Love of Jesus Christ that brings real peace to the heart of man, and transforms our natural inclination for hatred, retribution, and revenge. It is through efforts of Pastor Khoury and members of his congregation, like the saints of the first century who choose to be salt and light in a hostile Jerusalem, bathed in the prayers of Christians around the world, who can make known the Love and Light of the Lord Jesus Christ to those who desperately need Him. As you watch events unfold in Israel, please remember to pray for the witness and ministry of this young and courageous Arab Christian pastor and his fellow Christian believers in Israel. Please also remember to pray for the peace of Jerusalem as we are instructed in Psalm 122:6.



Job Opportunity at The Fellowship of St. James
Monday, July 7, 2014, 12:30 PM

The Fellowship of St. James, a non-for-profit Christian publishing ministry, is seeking a full-time Business Manager. The Fellowship currently has four full-time employees (Executive Director/Executive Editor of publications; Managing Editor of publications; Graphic Design and Web Editor for publications; and the Business Manager) and two part-time employees. The position entails oversight, management, and execution of all business aspects of the ministry, from oversight of the facility, bookkeeping, data entry, budgeting, reporting, personnel records, payroll, purchasing office supplies, computers, vendor contracts, and mailings.

This is an ideal position for a business-oriented person with experience who seeks to utilize business skills to manage the efficiency and growth of the ministry of the Fellowship.

The Fellowship publishes Touchstone (www.touchstonemag.com), Salvo (www.salvomag.com), plus the Daily Devotional Guide and Calendar of the Christian Year. Its main website is www.fsj.org. The Fellowship also holds occasional lectures, seminars, and conferences.

The annual salary for the position will be determined based on skills and previous experience. Health insurance is provided.

Inquiries and resumés should be sent to James Kushiner, jmk@fsj.org. A detailed job description is available upon request.

 


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